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Continuing relationships with toxic family members

(6 Posts)
moonmanic Thu 18-Apr-13 19:34:51

To be specific, my parents.

Dad has always been withdrawn, verbally abusive, critical, nasty, full of rage. Mum has colluded with his behaviour but letting him get away with it and denying everything that he has ever done. Tells me I make things up that have happened, that I am abusive for even mentioning his behaviour. But she is also abusive in her own right in that she is very passive aggressive. Since I was a child she has always tried to embarrass me in front of people, tell me I am stupid, laugh at me, deny my feelings. I was conditioned to NEVER stick up for myself or there would be hell to pay.

I am now in my early thirties with a toddler DD of my own. I look at DD and just could not imagine treating her the way I was treated by my parents.

Since my adolescence, I have suffered depression, anxiety, low self esteem, no confidence, social anxiety. I have a huge overbearing sense of rage and anger sometimes. I am going through counselling at the moment, which has been massively helpful. I am being encouraged to let go of my anger and perhaps confront my parents about their behaviour, perhaps by writing them a letter.

I feel more and more like I need to do this. To really make it explicit how I feel and that I will not tolerate it anymore.

Has anyone confronted their parents about toxic behaviour? How did it go? did it make you feel any better? I feel like they gave me this "gift" of anger which I want to give it back to them. I feel so angry and resentful towards them. I feel like they have totally ruined my life and that they must have seen the damage that they were doing. I would go so far as to say that I hate them. I don't want to feel like this anymore. I constantly feel drained etc because of it.

THey come round to see DD every so often. They behave like there is no problem. It makes me feel so angry that I live everyday dealing with the low self esteem and anger that they gave to me and they treat me like nothing is the problem. When I have spoken to mum about how their behaviour has effected me she calls me a liar, laughs at my tears, tells me I make stuff up.

I am so fed up with this situation. I don't know how to deal with it.

Suzietastic Thu 18-Apr-13 20:15:55

Hi, I'm sorry, I'm not as articulate as many of the other posters on here but I can identify with your situation. I had a very similar relationship with my parents. They belittled everything I did which hadn't been approved by them. I run my own business but they looked down their nose at that as I am a dog groomer and don't have a managerial title (IT IS MY BUSINESS FFS). They took very little interest in my children and I. Most decisions I made were belittled.

I found it difficult to deal with them because, like you, I suffered with low self esteem as a result of years of condescending & patronising behaviour.

When I eventually found the confidence (with the help of my husband who they of course didn't like) to confront them, I was shouted down by my father and told that I had made up things that I had said. The conversation happened ver the phone. It was put down on me. I have never spoken to them since. They have told people that they do not speak to me because I borrowed a large sum of money from them and did not pay it back.

In short - sorry if I'm gabbling - I think it will be very difficult to have a serious conversation with them about their attitude towards you. They have already laughed at you and accused you of lying. I don't want to be defeatist - I only have my experience to go by of course - but I think that your parents sound similar to mine in that they will not accept your version of events and will go on the attack. You have already tried talking to them so perhaps a letter might be the best idea? You can write it, re write it etc? All I can say is that now they are no longer in my life I have been able to build my confidence and my self esteem issues still lurk but I am careful to surround myself with people who support and care for me. It's what I deserve and what you deserve too.

Best of luck xx

Bedtime1 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:21:08

I feel the same way. Do you then feel bad for feeling like you hate your parents because I end up feeling bad. I think this is so messed up because its not supposed to be this way. End up feeling crap either way. I don't no the answers. I've tried every way but still end up feeling crap. I'm on one of those days when it all feels crap and feel like everything is useless as ill still end up feeling guilty or rubbish

I understand the wanting to give the gift of anger back to them. I don't think they were normal people and I have a lot of issues around them . Before I was of the mentality that just ignore but now I'm beginning to think you should call them up on there behaviour. It's like they bully so what is the correct way to deal with a bully. Either way I still think it is best to not argue but get your point across then go. Maybe others can advise as I'm thinking of dealing with it like you about calling them up on things in a non confrontational way. One wise lady said on here to "starve them of the attention" . I think this is true. I'm thinking maybe I could just say a brief line then walk away without an argument? Maybe.

Bedtime1 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:28:54

Suzie that's a lovely post and really well written . I think you've handled it so well. I admire the strength in you to confront then walk away. It must be so painful but a relief too as you can focus on you. With time it will get easier .

I do the flitting from not wanting to see them again to arranging to meet up or talk but the truth is my mum and dad are not very nice most of the time. They probably have their reasons but they just don't care who they hurt and are very selfish. I find them very overbearing ESP my mum bit my dad expects me to run around after him when I am in touch.

Suzietastic Thu 18-Apr-13 20:45:22

Thank you Bedtime1. I actually walked away twice. The first time I went back because I was pregnant and my mum was upset. i also missed them and beat myself up over it all. eventually inrang my mum and apologised!!!

The second time i confronted them & my dad hung up on me, because they then lied to people about my borrowing money & not paying it back - it was easy to stay away. It was almost like closure? There was just no way I could dress it up as something else or excuse it. And it meant i had to face the fact that although they were my mum and dad, they we also horrible people. And do you know what? That was that. It really was. It was so easy.

Suzietastic Thu 18-Apr-13 20:46:50

Posted too soon. It's a personal thing, you know in your head what you have to do but it is not simple. For me that just had to do something outrageous enough for it to be inexcusable.

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